We are born in the Spirit into the very life of God, part of the family of the Triune God, and are no longer “I” but “we,” living each day with God.
Pr. Joseph G. Crippen
The Holy Trinity, year B
Texts: John 3:1-20; Romans 8:12-17
Dear friends in Christ, grace to you, and peace in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
To be in a family is to belong. To be connected. To be a “we,” not an “I.”
In a family, everything is more complicated. Your own needs and wants are counted among everyone else’s, so meeting them is always a conversation, a give and take, a sharing of life.
But what a glorious thing, to be a “we” instead of simply an “I.” There is life and joy and hope and love in “we”.
The Trinity shouldn’t be so hard for us to grasp, then, should it? God is also a “we,” not an “I”. That’s always how God comes to us. Whatever we understand about the Triune God, the relationship of family, community between Spirit, Son, and Father is probably the easiest and most helpful for us to imagine. God belongs to God – one God, yet three Persons – living together in love and dance and joy. A divine “we” creating all things.
Consider what this means for us, created in the image of God.
As I wrote in this week’s Olive Branch, God’s creating word in Genesis 1 is deeply significant: “Let us make humankind in our own image.” If the Triune God is an “us” not an “I,” and this communal God created humanity in God’s image, then this is our deepest reality. We are God’s image when we are connected to each other, to all humanity.
God created a beautiful diversity of genders, languages, colors, and shapes in humanity, and all this, says the Triune God, all this, is God’s image. This rich diversity is the way God expresses the breadth and depth of the truth about God.
So without every child of God, every person, included, we can’t see or be the whole image of God. You were made to be complete in connection with all God’s children. I cannot be who I am made to be apart from you. There is only “we.”
In this community of faith here we learn how blessed this is, and are taught to be family in a way we can take beyond here to our whole world. Each of you is necessary to this family gathered here, whether it’s your first time in this room for worship or your fiftieth year. Here in this community we glimpse the grace of being a “we” not an “I” and our eyes learn to see how being connected to all God’s children of all kinds is our true identity.
This alone is wonder and joy enough for us today. But then we hear the astonishing words of John, chapter 3.
Father, Son, and Spirit are all here, but we tend to focus most on the first two. We repeat John 3:16 and the love of the Father, print it on signs and posters and bumper stickers. We focus our faith on the grace of the Son being lifted up on the cross, as Jesus says here, for our healing and life.
But the greeting with which I begin each Eucharist, Paul’s greeting in 2 Corinthians 13, speaks not only of the grace of Jesus Christ, and not only of the love of the Father. There is also this wonder: the fellowship, the koinonia, the sharing in the Holy Spirit, as Paul literally says.
And that’s in John 3, also. Perhaps, like Nicodemus, we’re so confused by the idea of a new birth from above we skim right past it. Clearly Jesus isn’t talking about a new physical birth. And not a “born again” moment once and for all when we each, as individuals, somehow find a depth of faith.
Jesus simply says: You are born of water and the Spirit. The Spirit mothers you into new life. And if you are born of the Spirit – and Jesus will repeat this often – you are born into the life of God. The Spirit gives you birth into the “we” that is God.
Paul says today we are joined into God’s family. Heirs of God. Jesus says the Spirit is our mother, giving us birth, and, as Jesus promised last week, walking alongside us, our Advocate, our guide, and she delivers us into the family life of the Triune God.
So you are never apart from God, born into God’s internal, eternal family life.
And that changes even how you view yourself individually. The 14th century Sufi Muslim poet Hafiz describes it this way. He says he used to wake in the morning saying “What am ‘I’ going to do?” But a seed cracked open inside him, he says, and now he is certain that he is not the only one “housed in this body.” There are two of us, he says. Two “doing the shopping together in the market and tickling each other while fixing the evening’s food.”
“Now when I awake,” he writes, “all the internal instruments play the same music: ‘God, what love-mischief can ‘We’ do for the world today?” 
Can you imagine such joy? To dream not “what will I do today,” but “what will we – God and me, living together – do?” The Spirit of God is within you, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, Paul says, so you are no longer only an “I.” You are a “we.” God and you, as one, walking in the world, loving your neighbor, joined to all humanity.
This is our true reality: “we” with each other as the image of God, and “we” within the Triune God in every breath we take.
You might not feel either kind of “we” deeply right away. Whenever you join any family, there’s time needed to live into that family’s life, learn what the family feels like. If you’ve never even thought about God within you as a “we”, or all people together as the completed image of God, it will be new. But it will be beautiful. And in our life together as a community, as a “we,” we help each other. As a friend of mine said, our calling is to be the midwife of the Holy Spirit. She gives birth to all; we help that birth along in each other and in the creation.
As you awaken to the Spirit within you, mothering you in the family of the Triune God, showing you your life with all people, knowing it is true is a good start. From there you live into the reality, until you also find yourself waking up each day and saying, “God, what love-mischief can ‘we’ do for the world today?”
In the name of Jesus. Amen
 From The Gift: Poems by Hafiz, the Great Sufi Master, translated by Daniel Lodinsky; Penguin Compass, 1999.